© Commonwealth of Australia 2009
Report prepared by the Biodiversity Assessment Working Group
of the National Land and Water Resources Audit
for the Australian Government, Canberra.
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Download individual chapters:
- Contents (PDF - 71 KB) | (Word - 298 KB)
- Executive summary (PDF - 84 KB) | (Word - 118 KB)
- Chapter 1 - Introduction (PDF - 60 KB) | (Word - 65 KB)
- Chapter 2 - Terrestrial ecosystems (PDF - 535 KB) | (Word - 1.1 MB)
- Chapter 3 - Aquatic ecosystems (PDF - 387 KB) | (Word - 7.3 MB)
- Chapter 4 - Species and communities (PDF - 977 KB) | (Word - 7.6 MB)
- Chapter 5 - Threats to Australian biodiversity (PDF - 714 KB) | (Word - 2.2 MB)
- Chapter 6 - Managing the threats to Australia's biodiversity (PDF - 663 KB) | (Word - 2.2 MB)
- Appendix, glossary and references (PDF - 196 KB) | (Word - 420 KB)
- Acronyms and abbreviations (PDF - 48 KB) | (Word - 127 KB)
Australian governments remain strongly committed to managing biodiversity, addressing the threats and pressures and arresting the continuing losses. Pivotal to assessing progress in these areas is the ability to assess biodiversity itself. This Assessment was carried out as a cooperative partnership between the Australian Government, and state and territory agencies. It builds on the 2002 National Land and Water Resources Audit (NLWRA) Assessment, and describes indicators that could provide a basis for ongoing monitoring and reporting and evaluation of the status and trends in Australia's biodiversity.
The aims of this Assessment of Australia's Terrestrial Biodiversity 2008 (hereafter referred to as the 'Assessment') are two-fold:
- To present the results of an assessment based on information available up to the end of June 2007.
- To report these results using indicators that could contribute to ongoing monitoring and reporting of trends in Australia's biodiversity at a national scale.
The framework for this Assessment of biodiversity is based on assets, threats and responses.
Australia's major biodiversity assets are identified as: terrestrial ecosystems; aquatic ecosystems; and species and ecological communities. This Assessment does not address marine biodiversity.
The key threats to biodiversity are: habitat fragmentation; climate change; land use change; invasive species; grazing pressure; altered fire regimes; and changed hydrology.
Institutional responses examined in this Assessment include: policy and legislation; management of at-risk biodiversity; threat abatement; conservation on private land; protected areas (the National Reserve System) and regional natural resource management arrangements.
This Assessment identifies indicators of trends in biodiversity assets, threats and responses that could be used for future assessments, and outlines the currently available national datasets that have been used to report against these indicators.
The indicators vary in the length of time-series data, temporal and spatial
resolution, and confidence in the data for trends in assets, threats and responses.
As a suite, however, they do provide a view of biodiversity from a number of
different complementary angles. Table 1 summarises the indicators and ratings of
current reporting capacities for each indicator.
Where nationally consistent data were not available, the jurisdictions proposed developing case studies in response to specific indicators. For each of the indicators where case studies were sought, they were generally the data-rich cases that could provide insight and learning. These case studies are an important part of this Assessment.
The key findings
The major findings are:
- Many of Australia's biological assets are still in decline, and threats are ongoing and compounded by climate change.
- Progress has been made in the collaboration between national, and state and territory jurisdictions in improving Australia's biodiversity information.
- Despite this progress, there are insufficient data to report on national trends in important aspects of Australia's biodiversity.
- A range of useful monitoring systems exist at regional and state levels.
- Landscape-scale approaches are pivotal to long term biodiversity conservation successes, but there is a lack of effective and systematic monitoring systems at this scale that can be used for evaluation.
- The strengthening and consolidation of the regional delivery model for natural resource management (NRM) has assisted delivery of biodiversity outcomes.
Implications for future biodiversity assessments
This Assessment has highlighted the lack of many nationally consistent datasets to assess the status and trends of biodiversity in Australia, while showing that there are many instances of good datasets at a state and regional level.
To assist in national reporting of trends in biodiversity, all jurisdictions could:
- support strategic long-term monitoring of selected species and communities following agreed protocols
- support strategic research to establish empirical relationships between biodiversity and important surrogates, including native vegetation and wetlands
- support adaptive learning from major biodiversity management and conservation programs (including the reserves system, recovery actions, and threat abatement actions)
- support research into the impacts of climate change on biodiversity and its interactions with existing stressors, and
- support programs that build resilience in ecosystems, communities and species to threats to biodiversity.